At Thanksgiving we never ate Ocean Spray cranberry “sauce” from a can.
A good half of you, by my entirely unscientific polling, are gasping dramatically and clutching your pearls right now. Calm down. I lived a deprived childhood! I didn’t see the Back To the Future films until I was in my late 20s. We didn’t grow up with extended family, so I didn’t have a weird aunt until I got married. I didn’t even know Canada existed until I moved to Texas. Everyone thought that’s where my accent was from. Like I said – totally deprived.
This tradition was something I was unaware of. I knew of the evil of jello and it’s ilk. Straddling the line of solid and liquid, never having to decide on one or the other. I’d like to speak to those forms directly now: MAKE UP YOUR MIND. EVEN THE ROTTING PUMPKINS ON MY FRONT PORCH HAVE TO DECIDE EVENTUALLY. DO IT.
(Maybe I shouldn’t evoke images of decomposing organic material while trying to talk food the day after gluttony’s holiday, but I am a rebel.)
For those who may be unaware as I was, this holiday tradition marries the overindulgence of the proteins and carbohydrates at the Thanksgiving feast with the bitter, angry ire of cranberries served the only way that science was able to make them palatable for the masses: as a gelatinous tube.
That’s it. A time honored tradition for many, this solid-ish “sauce” is served just like that. Not mixed into anything. Not melted down. A freestanding monument to corn syrup, can to plate. It is generally served in slices. When asked if you mash it, I was met with shrieking. It is pictured in a friend’s sauce server from the 1950s, passed down to him because of his devotion to this strange side dish/condiment/thing.
Having grown up without this tradition, I’ve never eaten it before. So for the sake of science, journalism, and all that is holy, I tried some.
And it was… terrible. It’s just a nondescript tart mass that is really only defined by it’s texture: jelly, but grainy. After a single bite I declared the experiment over and my husband happily gobbled up the remains.
The moral of this culinary adventure? Traditions are weird. I’m going to stick to the homemade cranberry sauce from the vulgar-yet-delightful Thug Kitchen. It looks like cranberries and tastes like them too, no wiggle required. Keep that in mind for next year.